Welcome to a very special edition of the Wrath of Tito. I wouldn't normally produce a column on a Monday, of all places, but I finished Hollywood Hulk Hogan, the biography from Hulk Hogan in the returning Phat Book Review. I've seen a lot of Hogan lately, in fact. The great Mrs. Tito bought me the Rocky movie box set for Christmas, and I saw Rocky 3 with Thunderlips the other day. Then, I actually pop in my brother's DVD of "Hulk Still Rules", and I enjoyed it. I didn't watch it all, as I just scanned through the first disc. The video portion was good, aside from a few hypocritical comments about Roddy Piper in it, saying that Piper should have been more of a business man in the WWE, doing the right thing when asked. I'll get to more of this in a bit concerning his book review.
I liked Hogan's words about Macho Man in the video. In the book, Hogan hardly ever mentions his personal problems or feelings about Randy Savage, but in the video, he points out that Savage was paranoid about Hogan stealing his girlfriends or wives, in the case of Miss Elizabeth or Gorgeous George. I believe Hogan's side of the story, and it makes me wonder when Savage will begin to suck up to Hogan to get into the WWE. Oh wait, Hogan isn't in the WWE now. My bad.
Quick NFL notes: Damn it, my 49ers are out of the Playoffs. No bad calls against the Steelers. Pittsburgh should worry more about fixing their pass defense before ever considering themselves a Superbowl team instead of what they thought were bad calls. The Eagles and Bucs have superior defenses against anybody. Look for a low scoring game next week. The Raiders rule. They are my pick to win the Superbowl, and they'll do it over the Eagles.
Ok, back to reality. I keep hearing rumors about Bill Goldberg talking to Vince McMahon. My old Tyson argument still applies here. If Mike Tyson, a boxer who was out on his ass at the time, is worth $2 - 4 Million and its said it will improve business, then what about Bill Goldberg? However, I will agree that Goldberg's starpower here in the United States just isn't what it is here in 2003. Goldberg last wrestled in 2000, at least from what America has seen him on television. Therefore, I agree that the WWE should show Goldberg the money to show up for Wrestlemania, but not that much I suppose. He's not exactly a celebrity-in-demand these days.
Funny to see all of the rumors about the Undertaker returning to his old gimmick of "dead man" getting squashed. I mean really, does it make sense to bring back a gimmick that wasn't really successful? Yes, I said that. When the Undertaker was on top with that gimmick, look where the WWE was. From late 1991 until Wrestlemania 13 (1997), the WWE was either in a decline in business or was in the red, losing money. That simple. The Dead Man gimmick was hardly as successful as the Red & Yellow version of Hulk Hogan, which CAN come back because it was so popular for its time. The Dead Man was NOT, therefore it's good to see the WWE getting their heads out of their asses for a change. I have a great gimmick idea for the Undertaker: the main eventer of a retirement home.
Man, it's good to see that the Ultimo Dragon is returning to wrestling. It was a shame when he was injured and put of wrestling during his tenure in WCW. That boy was quite talented.
WWE cancelled a bunch of houseshows, I believe 6 or so. There are clear cut signs that business is in decline, as nobody is demanding to see the WWE live right now. Aside from ticket prices being high, there are no guarantees to see good starpower at the houseshows. I went to a Smackdown houseshow a few months ago, and I enjoyed it. It wasn't from the starpower, it was from the midcarders who were allowed to shine at the shows. For instance, Val Venis was allowed to be a full blown face and he was doing things to get the crowd into the match. D'Von Dudley, the preacher man back then, got on the mic and ripped the crowd hard to get the biggest heat of the night. My point is that the WWE HAS the capability to make their shows interesting again, as a whole. They need to do more with their midcard and make stars out of everyone, instead of shitting on anybody not named Triple H, HBK, or the Undertaker. At this rate, the WWE is going to be in horrible business shape when their Viacom television deal comes up in 2 years or whenever it is. Could you see the WWE having NO cable television outlets? Now that's scary, but at the ignorant rate the WWE is going with their television shows, they'll get what they ask for.
I didn't watch or even tape the past week's Smackdown. Some friends came over and I found that to be highly more important than seeing an A-Train vs. Brock Lesnar main event. I heard the show was good wrestling wise, but from the usual workers, Benoit, Edge, Guerreros, and even the Cruiserweights looked good. Again, as with the case of Smackdown, the best workers will NEVER get rewarded, while Brock Lesnar has to wrestle the biggest douches in the business to stink up things.
Is Tough Enough 3 still going? I haven't seen that show in a long time. I saw several of the contestants one day on Mtv's TRL while channel surfing, but I didn't know if that show was wrapping up or not? I don't know and I don't care.
But what I do care about is the Hollywood Hulk Hogan book, which was quite a read. I started it Monday of last week, and got it done on Sunday night. That's fast reading for me, meaning I just couldn't put it down... And that's with work and putting up with material given from my graduate school courses.
While I can see what Bret Hart is saying, I can also understand that Hulk Hogan has wrestled for 25 years. Hogan also doesn't have tons of downtime to sit around and write or prepare for a book, like Bret Hart unfortunately does right now. The book is 343 pages long and Hogan fills it nicely with a good outline of his wrestling career and some very interesting opinions of some of the happenings in his wrestling career. I thought Hogan covered a lot of issues that have been controversial in his life, although he did avoid a few issues, which I'll get to.
I liked how Hogan didn't spend too much time on his early life before wrestling. He gets right into it, describing how rough his trainer, Hiro Matsuda, was on the Hulkster in his early goings, even breaking his leg to keep Hogan out of it for 10 weeks in Hogan's first time in the ring. It's CLEARLY evident that Hogan was in the wrestling business to mainly make money, despite actually liking wrestling when he grew up. He quit wrestling a few times because he didn't make any large paydays like the wrestlers he observed while he once worked at a bank. It wasn't until Vince McMahon Sr. brought him to the WWWF in the late 1970's or early 1980's that he could get his foot in the door and finally see a good payday. I'm all for Hogan taking the opportunity to leave the WWWF and film Rocky 3 with Sylvester(sp?) Stallone, as it helped lay some groundwork for Hulkamania to start. The stories Hogan told about working with Stallone were hilarious, including a famous photo shoot he did on Stallone's recommendation. Classic.
Hogan went to AWA and he admitted to a lot of things while working there. For one, Verne Gagne had a sick way for Hogan to really become champion, making him become "part of the family", while Hogan admitted that he was the one who decided on the final match with Nick Bockwinkel in St. Paul. Hogan was talking to Vince McMahon Jr., the new owner of the WWE, about making the jump and becoming a HUGE star. Hogan jumped and he was a major player in the newly named WWF for 10 years.
He was pretty open about his time in the WWF. He talked about working with Andre, how he recommended that Randy Savage was a good choice to become champion, how he agreed to put over the Warrior, how he recommended to Vince to have him win the title off of Sgt. Slaugher at Wrestlemania 7, and the real reason behind the black eye at Wrestlemania 9. He addresses the rumor how it was Randy Savage who was rumored to have punched out Hogan the night before. It wasn't that, as Hogan gives a good legit reason why his eye was messed up. Hogan was VERY honest about steroids and is apologetic for lying on Arsenio Hall about taking them. Hogan said that taking steroids, as he said it "was part of my daily regimen". I praise him for that, although he already admitted to it when being a witness in the federal trial against Vince McMahon for the distribution of steroids to his wrestlers.
Hogan would also address the finish of his WWF career in 1993. This is probably what pissed off Bret Hart. Hogan said he discussed it with Vince that he'd put over Yokozuna on his way out, while Vince may have told Bret Hart the opposite, maybe telling Bret that Hogan would put him over. I don't officially know the real story, but at least Hogan addressed it in this book and tried to give his side of the story.
Then, Hogan was off to WCW. I'm happy that Hogan admitted his contract details in this book. Jesus Christ, he made a lot of money in WCW! We're talking AT LEAST a guaranteed $700,000 per every Pay Per View he wrestled. We're talking a 50% cut of his merchandise sales, while getting a small percentage off of other wrestler merchandise sales! On top of that, probably a hefty multi-million dollar contract that had him working less dates than he did in the WWF. Throughout this book, I was glad to see Hogan was very open about why he was wrestling. It's about money, brother.
Hogan was OK about his WCW career. He talked about how his entrance was good in WCW, but Hulkamania slowly began to die off, hence the heel turn of 1996 that sparked the NWO wave that would keep WCW on top until the night after Wrestlemania 14. He was good on admitting that Bischoff didn't have the staff around him that say Vince McMahon had in the WWF, which is part of the reason why WCW went down. I especially liked the part about Vince Russo. I'll agree, Hogan did do what he was told from Russo. Russo clearly wanted Hogan out of WCW and backstabbed Hogan at every opportunity. The Bash at the Beach 2000 stuff was the icing on the cake that sparked Hogan's lawsuit against WCW in the first place. Good stuff.
HOWEVER, he ignored several important events surrounding him in WCW. For one, what about that Sting finish at Starrcade 1997? Hogan admitted that he DID IN FACT have creative control over his character during the Russo chapter, so did he use it there to have a horribly botched finish to that match? Secondly, what about the time where Macho Man beat Sting for the World Title in the spring of 1998, only for Hogan to win it the night after? Was that part of Hogan's doing? Sure, Hogan should be praised for wanting to put the title on Goldberg, but what about the strong rumors about Hogan only doing it IF AND ONLY IF he would be the first to beat Bill Goldberg in return? How about the Warrior feud? Where was that? Did that horrible match from Halloween Havoc 1998 not exist? What about Hogan's agreeing to come back out of retirement in early 1999 only if he'd become World Champion again? You see, it's avoiding to address these issues that gives Hogan the "bad rep" he talks about in his book. I can't forgive the part about ignoring the Sting feud, which I have a feeling he had a good hand in sabotaging if he didn't mention it.
I also believe he has a misunderstanding about "holding wrestlers back". He talks about Booker T in one chapter, saying that Hogan never held him back as it was Booker's own fault for staying in WCW too long. Huh? Part of what the idea of the main eventers holding younger wrestlers back goes through the following things that were clearly blatent during Hogan's WCW reign. Look at how much time he spent on promos in 1998. He would come out with Eric Bischoff and do an in-ring promo about nothing. Then, Hogan would also reign as champion at the wrong times. When the WWF was becoming awesome in 1998, what did WCW/Hogan do? They took the belt off of Sting, gave it to Macho Man for one night, and gave it directly back to Hogan to hold it several months. They did the same thing in early 1999 when Hogan came out of "retirement" to become WCW champion again for a few months, and that's after Nash was the first to beat Goldberg for that belt (Hogan never mentioned that retirement, by the way). By keeping yourself at the top, as champion, or hogging excessive promo time, it takes away from any other wrestlers to seize an opportunity to shine. Get it? Plus, he did admit to having creative control over his character, and he could refuse any feud that was suggested his way (for Hogan's credit, though, he never used that when asked to feud with Kidman or Mike Awesome during Russo's run).
Hogan would then talk about various topics such as XWF and his return to the WWF or WWE. Hogan mentioned that he actually blew out his knee during his title match against the Iron Sheik. He's worked with that injured knee ever since (over 15 years?), and that's why the big boot/legdrop finisher has been used throughout the years. Well, that may be hard to swallow, but I could see it given that Hogan does have a good training background and experience wrestling in Japan. Hogan talked about the risky operation he had to get the knee repaired just to join the WWE, and how it feels fine, thus far. He'll need it replaced in the future, though. Hogan talks about his entrance and how he was loved by the fans from his return. Good stuff.
LAST WORD: This was a darn good read. The book had a ghostwriter in Michael Jan Friedman, who appears to be a very good writer. It's very easy to read and follow, so it's a good book for all ages. Plus, it avoids anything vulgar, so if you have a young Hulkamania who is eager to read, this would be a great present. Overall, I liked the content of the book. Hogan gave us a good look at his long career in wrestling, even if it's not insanely detailed as Bret Hart would want it to be. I thought it was good for Hogan to address issues like steroids, his WWF 1993 finish, and his problems with Russo, but Hogan avoided several key moments of his WCW career that are highly questionable. I find it highly odd that Hogan takes no blame for WCW's fall, even if it's a very small part of it. Being champions at several key moments where WCW could have been refreshed and ready to go severely hurt WCW, but that was never mentioned. But the stuff Hogan addresses, he's honest in the way that he feels about whatever he's talking about. I'll give this book an [ A- ] (A Minus) just for a few minor details left out during his WCW run or from not taking any of the blame for WCW's fall. I will say that besides the Mick Foley books, this is the BEST WWE/WWF read out of the wrestler books produced by the WWE. It appears that Hogan had a good say in what was going to get published in his book than say Kurt Angle, who seemed to be speaking from a WWE spokesperson, whereas this one, it sounds like Hogan talking to you (lots of "brother" mentions in this book!). From that, it makes the book more entertaining and you'll probably have a hard time putting it down once you start reading it.
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